QUEENSLAND is a state of many contrasts that range from sunny tropical coastal areas, lush rainforests to dry inland areas. It occupies the NE corner of the mainland continent, neighboured by the Northern Territory to the west, South Australia to the SW and New South Wales to the south. To the east, the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean.
Queensland is often called the Sunshine State, since it enjoys warm weather and a sizable portion of the state is in the tropics. The area was first colonised by Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders, who arrived between 40,000 and 65,000 years ago. The current population is concentrated in the south-east corner, which includes the capital Brisbane and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.
Other major regional centres include Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Bundaberg. Queensland has many places that are blessed with natural beauty, including the Sunshine and Gold Coasts having some of the state’s most popular beaches, the Whitsunday Islands and Hinchinbrook Island. The World Heritage Great Barrier Reef is the major attraction for visiting superyachts, providing unsurpassed cruising, diving and fishing opportunities.
The Australian Government, recognising that the Great Barrier Reef as a particularly sensitive area requiring the highest possible level of environmental protection, has enacted legislation for compulsory pilotage in the Inner Route of the Great Barrier Reef between Cape York and Cairns and the Hydrographers Passage. Pilotage in other areas of the GBR is recommended by IMO. Pilotage is compulsory for all vessels more than 70 metres long but superyachts less than this are advised to consider embarking a pilot to assist them through this challenging route.
Pilotage services are provided by two companies; Torres Pilots and Australian Reef Pilots. The Great Barrier Reef is undisputed as one of the world’s most important natural assets. Regulations are in place that ensure the sustainable use of the Marine Park and are basic rules for operating which apply to all recreational and commercial users. Most vessels can access almost all areas of the Marine Park without a permit, however, it is advisable to check the current requirements before each visit, by reviewing the following documents that are available on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s web site www.gbrmpa.gov.au/corp_site/key_issues/tourism/super_yachts : Zoning plan, Plans of Management, Waste Disposal Regulations, Anchoring Regulations, compulsory pilotage regulations, best environmental practice and whale and dolphin watching regulations.
The Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Vessel Traffic Service (REEFVTS) is a mandatory Ship Reporting System (REEFREP) that through the integrated use of AIS, Radar, Automated Position Reporting via Inmarsat-C, VHF reports and detailed route plans provided by vessels, compiles a timely and accurate traffic image of shipping throughout the region to enhance safety and minimise risk of pollution.
All ships and superyachts of 50 metres or greater in overall length are required to report to REEFVTS irrespective of whether they are on overseas, interstate or intrastate voyages, and smaller superyachts transiting the REEFVTS area are encouraged to report on a voluntary basis. Queensland boasts a fully established and integrated superyacht industry represented by three regional cluster groups: Superyacht Group Great Barrier Reef (Cairns), Whitsunday Mackay Superyacht Group (Whitsundays) and Superyacht Brisbane (Brisbane and the Gold Coast Region).
Together, the companies and organisations represented by these clusters provide visiting superyachts access to some of the best services available anywhere in the world.
Captain’s log: Brisbane/Gold Coast – Cities of Gold & Silver Seas